Tuesday, June 25, 2019

River House: Selecting a Builder

"When one has finished building one's house, one suddenly realizes that in the process one has learned something that one really needed to know -- in the worst way -- before one began."
-- Friedrich Nietzsche

There are literally thousands of advice articles on the Internet about how to choose a contractor for your custom home. We followed none of that advice.

TAB Premium Built Home house in Morehead City; courtesy of TAB
Premium Built Homes

Pete and I lived in two houses in Virginia and extensively remodeled both of them. We were very lucky with our contractor, Harold Leff, and worked with him on both houses starting in 1990. It was a sad day in 2017 when he removed the lockbox on the front door of our second house! We appreciated the quality of his team, his eye for detail, his creativeness, and how easy he was to work with. He wasn't going to be the cheapest contractor in town, but you get what you pay for. We wanted to find another Harold when we built our North Carolina home.

We turned the upper half of a two-story sun room into a screen porch over-
looking the treetops; personal collection
And added a foyer to the middle of the house by using the recessed front
porch; personal collection

We chose TAB Premium Built Homes because they were a member of the Southern Living Custom Builder Program. The program is a network of high-quality home builders throughout the south. Builders were selected because of their commitment to great architecture and craftsmanship. We thought this might be the best way to "find another Harold."

I first contacted TAB in 2015 right after I retired and we thought we'd move to New Bern immediately -- before I got the "bright" idea to ease Pete's weekly Albany, New York, to Virginia commute by moving to New York. Andy talked me out of two house plans for very good reasons and taught me how to look at a plan with an eye to cost.

We re-engaged with TAB in 2018 and signed the contract in in early March of 2019. After our first meeting with TAB's team, Pete and I weren't sure who was interviewing who! But once we got through contract negotiations, it's been a good relationship...so far.

Pete and I celebrating being in debt again; personal collection

The contract is a firm-fixed price contract with two areas of unknown costs, which was unusual for TAB. We were unable to get a price quote for site preparation due to the Hurricane Florence recovery efforts. Our contract included only an estimate. Also, our plans would have to be reviewed by a structural engineer to ensure they met or exceeded local building codes. Because we are on a river in hurricane country, there could likely be additional costs.

Next, the hurry-up-and-wait period while permits are pulled and the structural engineer weighs in on changes to meet codes. I have been busy setting up electrical, water, and sewer service to the lot.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Last Will and Testament of Capt. Thomas Wood of Bedford County, Virginia

Ancestry.com's new ThruLines indicates Thomas Wood (c1733-c1793) may be my five times great grandfather and the grandfather of Sarah "Sally" Wood (1792-1884), my three times great grandmother, who married Daniel Mitchell, Jr.  Her parents have been a longstanding brick wall.

Before exploring the DNA connections, I wanted to learn everything I could about Thomas Wood. I already knew he was Daughters of the American Revolution Patriot through two descendants of his daughter Sede Wood, who married Henry Dooley.

I also knew that he was a member of the Peaks of Otter Presbyterian Church and had signed a petition to the House of Burgesses in 1774 asking for permission to buy slaves to work church land so that it could support a full-time minister. (Just let that sink in for a minute!)

Next, I wanted to find his last will and testament, which I was able to do. It did not, however, provide any new information as his children's names are not mentioned. The will did not advance my quest to discover the parents of Sarah "Sally" (Wood) Mitchell.

Bedford County, Virginia
Will Book 2 (1788-1803)
Pages 102-103

Last Will and Testament of Thomas Wood (c1733-c17930; courtesy of Ancestry.com

In the name of God, Amen. I Thomas Wood of Bedford County being desirous of making a Testament and I do make and ordain this -- my Last Will and Testament in form and manner following to wit

First of all I give and recommend my soul to God who gave it Nothing doubting but at the General Resurrection to receive the same by the mighty power of God and as to my Temporal Estate I will first of all my Just Debts be fully discharged and paid and

Secondly I will my wife Elizabeth have her third of my Estate as the law directs and also one horse saddle and bridle and one feather bed and ten pounds in cash out of my moveable Estate. I give and Bequeath my Lands equally between my male and female children both in my moveable Estate they are equally to have and I do by these presents constitute and appoint my true and loving wife Elizabeth Wood my lawful Executrix

Last Will and Testament of Thomas Wood (c1733-c1793); courtesy of

together with John Sharp in said County

26th day of November 1773

Thomas Wood (signed and sealed)

Signed, sealed, published and pronounced before us
Thomas Best
John Stovall
Elizabeth Stovall (her mark)

This is to certify this in mentioned [?] will stands up good from the first day of my writing of my will to my wife Elizabeth and my children my witnesses

My had this 17 day of January 1781

Thomas Wood (his mark)


James King
Eliza King (her mark)
Hannah [illegible] (her mark)

At a Court held for Bedford County the 25 day of February 1793

This last will and testament of Thomas Wood, deceased, was proved by the oath of Elizabeth Leftwich late Elizabeth Stovall and the said Elizabeth Leftwich made oath that she saw John Stovall subscribe his name there to as a witness to the said will whereupon the same is ordered to be recorded and at a Court held for said County in July following the motion of Eliza Wood the Executrix therein named who made oath thereto --

Certificate is granted her for obtaining probate thereof in due form giving security whereupon she together with Henry Jeter, Thomas Logwood and George Potter her securities entered into and acknowledged their bond in the penalty of two hundred pounds conditioned for said Executrix due and faithful administration of said decedent's estate and performance of his will. Liberty being reserved to John Sharp the Executor therein named to join in the probate thereof when he shall think fit --


James Steptoe, County Clerk

Finding Sede (Wood) Dooley: Is She Sally Wood's Aunt?
Sarah "Sally" Wood (c1792-c1884): Has Ancestry's ThruLines Broken a Brick Wall?

Monday, June 10, 2019

Finding Sede (Wood) Dooley: Is She Sally Wood's Aunt?

Thomas Wood, my possible five times great grandfather and grandfather of Sarah "Sally" Wood, my three times great grandmother, died in 1793. Did he serve in the Revolutionary War? I used the Daughters of the American Revolution's (DAR) Genealogical Research Service (GRS) to find out.

DAR GRS Ancestor record for Thomas Wood (c1733-1793); courtesy of

Thomas Wood not only served in the Continental Army under Capt. Joseph Spencer and Capt. Rueben Lipscomb, he furnished supplies to the patriotic cause. Two DAR members joined the lineage society using Thomas Wood as their patriot ancestor. Both women descended from Thomas' daughter, Sede Wood, who married Henry Dooley.

I know that my three times great grandmother, Sarah "Sally" Wood, may have descended from a son of Thomas Wood, so this step in the research process did not break through a brick wall, but it did give me more names to research.

Sarah "Sally" Wood (c1792-c1884): Has Ancestry's ThruLines Broken a Brick Wall?

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Sarah "Sally" Wood (c1792-c1884): Has Ancestry's ThruLines Broken a Brick Wall?

Sarah "Sally" Wood (born about 1792) of Bedford County, Virginia, was my three times great grandmother and is one of my biggest brick walls. When we visited the Bedford Museum and Genealogical Society in October 2018, one of the aides pulled up Sally's marriage bond and consent note. I thought for sure it would put a crack in the wall, but, alas, no. Sally was of legal age to marry and basically gave herself permission to marry Daniel Mitchell.

Later, I was able to download Daniel's War of 1812 pension file and learned more about the couple, including specific death dates, but nothing about Sally's parents.

Several DNA matches are direct descendants of John Blagdon Wood (born about 1791) in Bedford County. I have assumed for a few years that John was a brother, though I have not been successful establishing who his parents were either. A John Wood and John B. Wood are listed in the probate files for Daniel Mitchell's father, Daniel Mitchell, Sr. So there were definitely strong connections between my Mitchell family and a Wood family, but which one?

Bedford County, Virginia Circuit Court Records: Abstracts of Will Book 6,
September 1823 - December 1827, Including Appraisements and Inventories,
Sales and Allotments, page 70; personal collection

A few weeks ago, Ancestry released a major enhancement to their DNA products. Probable common ancestors are identified even if both trees do not include the ancestor as was previously required. I have been spending most of my time using this upgrade to continue descendancy research and validation of the documents I have collected about the families in my tree.

The other part of Ancestry's DNA enhancement was the introduction of ThruLines. When I first explored ThruLines there were many issues, but yesterday there was this gem:

ThruLines for Capt. Thomas Wood IV (1737-1793). Is he Sally's grandfather?
Image courtesy of Ancestry.com

I can't wait to start researching Capt. Thomas Wood!


Daniel Mitchell, Jr. (c1786-1872): Miller, Cooper, Farmer
Daniel Mitchell, Jr. and Sarah "Sally" Wood Marriage Bond and Consent Note